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Benita, an African romance by H. Rider (Henry Rider) Haggard
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By H. Rider Haggard


It may interest readers of this story to know that its author
believes it to have a certain foundation in fact.

It was said about five-and-twenty or thirty years ago that an
adventurous trader, hearing from some natives in the territory
that lies at the back of Quilimane, the legend of a great treasure
buried in or about the sixteenth century by a party of Portuguese
who were afterwards massacred, as a last resource attempted its
discovery by the help of a mesmerist. According to this history
the child who was used as a subject in the experiment, when in a
state of trance, detailed the adventures and death of the unhappy
Portuguese men and women, two of whom leapt from the point of a
high rock into the Zambesi. Although he knew no tongue but
English, this clairvoyant child is declared to have repeated in
Portuguese the prayers these unfortunates offered up, and even to
have sung the very hymns they sang. Moreover, with much other
detail, he described the burial of the great treasure and its
exact situation so accurately that the white man and the mesmerist
were able to dig for and find the place where _it had been_--for
the bags were gone, swept out by the floods of the river.

Some gold coins remained, however, one of them a ducat of Aloysius
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